Little Nicholas

Little Nicholas

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

This charming kids' romp from France, based on the comic strip drawn by Jean-Jacques Sempé and penned by René Goscinny (of Asterix fame), plays like an adventurous Gallic cousin to Bash Street Kids and The Perishers.

If schoolboy Nicholas is 'petit' it doesn't stop him having a grand imagination and when he hears his mum and dad talking about what can only be the prospect of a new baby brother, it strikes fear into his heart. Sure that they are planning to take him into the forest and abandon him to make way for the new arrival - hey, they did it to Tom Thumb! - he enlists the help of his pals to come up with a way of getting rid of the kid, no questions asked, leading to a series of comic escapades.

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With its wit relying on childlike imagination and minor high jinx, writers Laurent Tirard, Grégoire Vigneron and Alain Chabat tap into the sense of adventure and excitement that being an under-12 is all about, offering a wonderful child's eye view of the world. There is slapstick here, and the sort of skewed children's logic that makes putting boot polish on furniture sound like a good idea.

While eight-year-olds on up will love the scrapes and triumphs that the kids get themselves into, there is also a lot of pleasure to be had from an adult's perspective. Mums and dads may have a pretty good idea how things are likely to turn out, but they will still be frequently surprised by the manner of the execution offered up by director Laurent Tirard (Moliere), who has a crafty eye for a good sight gag and knows how to draw on the characters' comic book orgins to good effect.

In a refreshing change from Hollywood films aimed at this market there is a blissful lack of toilet humour and there's plenty of fun to be had for an older audience in watching Nicholas' hapless father (Kad Merad) attempt to win a promotion from his boss by bringing him home to dinner. The acting from the adults has a slight pantomime edge to it, but this complements the source material and gives a real sense of the way in which children tend to view grown ups as larger than life. The children, meanwhile, form a sweet and believable ensemble, with Maxime Godart in the central role and Victor Carles as class clot Clotaire, in particular, likely to crop up in other films. Petit Nicholas is a household name in France and, after watching this, you'll probably want to take him home, too.

Reviewed on: 09 Nov 2010
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Family comedy about the misadventures of a young boy in Fifties France.
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Director: Laurent Tirard

Writer: Laurent Tirard, Grégoire Vigneron, Alain Chabat, René Goscinny, Sempé

Starring: Maxime Godart, Valérie Lemercier, Kad Merad, Sandrine Kiberlain, François-Xavier Demaison, Michel Duchaussoy, Daniel Prévost, Michel Galabru, Anémone, François Damiens, Louise Bourgoin, Vincent Claude, Charles Vaillant, Victor Carles, Benjamin Averty

Year: 2009

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: France

Festivals:

French 2010

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